Above the Clouds - Black Enterprise

Above the Clouds

The challenges of the recession took a toll on delancyhill, a Miami-based full-service law practice. Revenues were down 30%, but partners Marlon A. Hill and Michelle Delancy were finally able to see blue skies ahead of them–thanks to the cloud.

By downsizing their office space and moving files to the cloud, the company has been able to save $9,000 a month on their operational costs, says Hill.

The partners knew they could not continue carrying a large lease for Class A office space in downtown Miami.

So they contacted Kevin Michael, managing partner at Invizio L.L.C., a managed IT services provider, about helping their office transition to cloud computing. Many businesses are seeking cloud services for e-mail hosting, to work collaboratively on documents, calendar syncing, and mobility. delancyhill’s goal was to close their main downtown office, open three mini satellite offices, connect with clients at their places of business, and work from home without being disconnected from the company server, e-mails, or phone system.

After several conversations with the Florida Bar Association to make sure security and confidentiality weren’t compromised, delancyhill opted to go with their own private cloud, built from scratch by Invizio and hosted at TerreMark-Verizon’s NAP of Americas, a secure network data center that houses servers in a facility capable of withstanding Category 5 hurricanes, a reality in their region.

Eight hundred square feet of their downtown office was dedicated to storing cabinets full of casework. They had to inventory what existed and assess which files they would keep and scan or purge. They also had to look at the operations of the firm and determine which utilities contracts, like phone service, would remain, be upgraded, or become obsolete. They chose IPFone.com, a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) provider. The new system allowed them to keep their old phone numbers and their iPhones would connect directly to the new system.

Finally, they had to address the psychological transition. “In the close quarters of an office environment, work flow is easily shared among members of the team,” says Michael. “However, when the secretary is working remotely and the attorney is halfway across the world, it is a little more challenging to accomplish the same tasks. Invizio needed to re-engineer those business processes for a virtual environment.”

They brought up the new infrastructure while business was slow. It gave everyone an opportunity to practice as if they were using it virtually and work out the kinks while still working from the main office.

Once they all moved to their home and satellite offices, each attorney was given their own MiFi, a portable mobile device used to obtain a wireless signal or hotspot for their laptops or phones no matter where they were.

Yet, there are still loose ends to be tied. For example, delancyhill is planning to integrate their invoicing and payroll into the cloud process and hopes to find a bank that utilizes similar technology.

But more importantly, they can grow the firm, without growing their physical space, says Hill, who has plans to possibly add three more attorney’s under the delancyhill umbrella. “Anyone can join us without any boundaries right now,” says Hill. “They can literally just plug in a laptop and be a part of our firm.”